26 October 2012

Zimbabwe: Minister Begs for Elections Money

FINANCE minister Tendai Biti says government would soon send an SOS to several Western countries and other global donor organisations for money to fund the referendum and elections as the country was broke and could not go it alone.

Biti told a 2013 national budget consultative meeting in Bulawayo yesterday the country lacked the financial resources to fund the crucial elections and Western countries should help to foot part of the bill.

The cash-strapped Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has already indicated it needs about US$104 million to successfully organise a referendum to test the draft constitution which would pave the way for make-or-break elections next year.

"The 2013 budget is the crucial one in the lifespan of the inclusive government because it's a pre-election budget," said Biti.

"However, we do not have adequate resources to fund the elections on our own.... countries such as the United Kingdom, Norway and China as well as the United Nations have an obligation to fund the elections, in as much as they fund our education and health sector. We will soon approach them for assistance," he said.

Biti to check on US$100m request

FINANCE minister Tendai Biti travels to South Africa today to make a follow-up on the South African government's US$100 million budgetary support pledge to Zimbabwe.

Biti is to engage his South African counterpart Pravin Gordhan as a follow up to their previous meeting in September.

"Tomorrow (today) I will be travelling to South Africa and I will use the opportunity to make a follow up on that (budgetary support) issue," said Biti. "I will phone my counterpart to check what is going on. I should have done that by now but I haven't because of budget consultations."

Sadc heads of state and government pledged to provide support to Zimbabwe's Short-Term Economic Recovery Programme at an extraordinary summit held at the Lozitha Palace in Swaziland in 2009.

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